Of all the contagious threats out there right now, Ebola has taken center stage as public enemy number one in 2014. In fact, the virus’ outbreak has sent off alarms all across the globe, with governments restricting travel, locking down areas and medical personnel viciously fighting the disease at every turn. Why is the medical establishment so eager to contain Ebola, you ask? In case you weren’t previously aware, the Ebola virus has a case fatality rate in humans of around 90%. This isn’t just another run-of-the-mill disease we’re talking about here and to make matters worse, there is no specific treatment that we currently have to effectively cure a person either. In other words, most people who become infected stand to become severely ill or worse (and we still don’t have any type of vaccine which can provide the necessary protection for populations around the world).
In light of these facts, perhaps we should take a few minutes to familiarize ourselves with Ebola (what it actually is) as well as what its resulting symptoms actually look like…
What is Ebola, anyway?
First off, the name “Ebola” actually stems from a river located in the Congo (Ebola river) and might refer to any one of 5 different species of “Genus Ebolavirus”. This includes: Bundibugyo (BDBV), Zaire (EBOV), Reston (RESTV), Sudan (SUDV) and Taï Forest (TAFV). Additionally, the illness is a relative newcomer, having only emerged around 1976 in the Congo and Sudan.
It has been theorized that people are mostly contracting Ebola through contact with animals, through blood or other bodily fluids. Many different types of animals have also been found to transmit the disease, including gorillas, forest antelope, fruit bats, pigs, monkeys, chimpanzees, and even porcupines.
Once one or more humans contract the illness it can spread very rapidly throughout a village or community, often at a startling rate. To make matters worse, it’s often very difficult to pinpoint an exact incubation period, meaning that an infected individual can be harboring the virus without the presence of symptoms from anywhere between 2 to 21 days.
Ebola also attacks the body in various ways, damaging organs such as the liver or kidneys as well as causing internal / external bleeding. Likewise, before it can be identified, other illnesses such as cholera or malaria must first be eliminated as potential offenders.
What are the symptoms of an Ebola infection?
First off, a person will likely feel as though they’ve just contracted the flu (influenza), symptoms such as:
- muscle weakness,
- joint pain
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pains
- Difficulty swallowing
- Sore throat
Following this, skin rashes (maculopapular rash) tend to emerge, which indicates that the virus is progressing into the second phase. These symptoms include:
- Internal bleeding (gastrointestinal tract, hematomas, etc.)
- External bleeding (nose, genitals, around puncture wounds, etc.)
- Bloody vomit
- Bloody stool
- Intense pain
Assuming the affected person’s immune system cannot fight off the illness or they are unable to get adequate supportive case, they are very likely to die.